By Collin Breaux and Zach Cavanagh

As COVID-19 cases continue surging throughout California, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced further restrictions on Monday, July 13.

Counties on the monitoring list are directed to close indoor operations for fitness centers, places of worship, offices for non-critical sectors, personal care services which include hair salons and barbershops, and indoor malls. Orange County is on that list.

“That monitoring list is one that we hold very closely,” Newsom said. “These 30 counties in total represent about 80% of the population in the state of California.”

The monitoring list is dynamic, and counties can get on and off the list depending on the ability to mitigate the spread of the pandemic and hospitalizations.

On Monday, the Orange County Health Care Agency reported 540 new cases to bring the county total to 25,255 cases with 424 total deaths. The total number of cases in Orange County have doubled in the last 25 days since June 18. The OCHCA reported a total of 10,544 estimated recoveries on Monday.

The seven-day average for testing positivity percentage has been over 14% for the past seven days with it sitting at 14.9% on Monday – above the California Department of Public Health threshold of 8% that keeps Orange County on the watchlist. It was 6.6% on June 18. Orange County has conducted 314,191 total tests.

Hospitalizations in Orange County did see their second straight day of decrease in the three-day average change at minus-1.1%, which is well clear of the CDPH threshold of 10%. Hospitalizations had doubled in Orange County between June 18 and July 8 to a high of 691. However, hospitalizations then dropped and have stayed just above 670 for the last four days, including a total of 674 on Monday.

ICU cases in Orange County sat at 235 on Monday with 42.8% of ICU beds and 65.8% of ventilators currently available in the county, both clear of the respective CDPH thresholds of 20% and 25%.

Locally in South County, San Clemente has had a cumulative 204 cases with two deaths, San Juan Capistrano has had 168 cases with three deaths, Dana Point has had 118 cases with no deaths and Rancho Mission Viejo has had 37 cases with less than five deaths. As unincorporated county land with less than 25,000 people, the county does not report specific numbers for Rancho Mission Viejo until the total reaches five.

All counties statewide are required to close indoor operations for restaurants, wineries, tasting rooms, movie theaters, family entertainment centers, zoos, and museums. Outdoor operations are still allowed. Those operations had previously been ordered to close in Orange County and other counties on the monitoring list shortly after being allowed to reopen.

The “dimming” on California’s reopening is because of increases in ICU use in rural parts of California, Newsom said.

“This virus is not going away anytime soon,” Newsom said. “I hope all of us recognize that if we’re still connected to some notion that somehow when it gets warm, it’s going to go away or take summer months or weekends off, this virus has done neither.”

Newsom also again urged people to wear face masks and wash their hands to help prevent the spread of the pandemic. Health officials recommend wearing face masks, washing hands and practicing other hygiene measures, and social distancing.

Newsom acknowledged the pandemic is a difficult time, thanked residents for their perseverance, and urged people to stay vigilant.

“We were able to suppress the spread of this virus and knock down the growth of this in the beginning,” Newsom said. “We’re going to do this again.”

When asked about guidance for school districts as they consider whether to reopen for upcoming school years, Newsom pointed to previously issued guidance measures, and said there are different agencies monitoring varying conditions. Newsom pointed to Los Angeles Unified School District and San Diego Unified School District continuing to use distance learning. Newsom said children’s health is important.

Capistrano Unified School District is expected to finalize their own reopening plans during a Board of Trustees meeting on Wednesday, July 15. Options presented to the CUSD Board of Trustees incorporate hybrid models where K-5 students may spend half a day in academic instructor with a teacher and the other half in other activities with another teacher or staff member (all on campus), or do half their learning on campus and half at home. Students in grades 6-12 would do half their learning on-campus and the other half online. Families in all grades also have the option of 100% online learning if they so choose. Classes are expected to have social distancing measures and small sizes.

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